Whatever Happened to Basic Office Etiquette?

Guest Author: Amelia Walker for IAM

The workplace can become stressful when people fail to exercise good manners on a day-to-day basis. To create harmony and peace, certain rules must be adhered to. 

Today’s office environment can be a tough one to navigate and one of the biggest blunders you can make in your career is not understanding that there are particular guidelines to abide by in the workplace.

So why is workplace etiquette important? Firstly, because it can negatively influence employee productivity and attitude, and secondly, you may personally lose out on opportunities because people are deterred by your lack of professionalism.

With ever more importance being placed on the bottom line and being cost effective, it is surprising how many substantial companies bestow no value on employee relations. If you work for an organisation that treats you well, in terms of consideration and thoughtfulness of your feelings, and not just financially, you are more than likely to be inclined to go that extra mile. For example, a boss who says “good morning”, especially if he knows your name, will ensure far more loyalty than a boss who simply ignores you. This approach to staff costs nothing, yet it reaps reward in terms of morale and profitability. It astounds me that more businesses do not acknowledge this straightforward and inarguable fact.

The office environment brings together a kaleidoscope of personalities, work styles and ethics. Being tolerant of these differences and finding ways to adapt can test even the most patient of individuals. Not everybody is going to gel and agree with each other all of the time. Mutual
respect, conscientiousness, keeping an open mind and focusing on the positive aspects of your job are key traits that I try to adhere to on a daily basis – even in the most trying of times. There really is no substitute for good manners, social skills and politeness. To me, these qualities matter. Even if they don’t to others. If you want to get ahead, be nice. Nice guys, don’t always finish last.

In an ideal world, reiterating boundaries and setting rules of conduct when they have been crossed, are the most effective ways to address issues head-on in a diplomatic fashion – before they escalate and fester. Ensuring a happy, harmonious and productive work environment really isn’t rocket-science.

So be sure to demonstrate the following good manners in the workplace and hopefully others that are not so inclined, may take note and follow your lead.

  1. Share the credit: Not acknowledging a colleague’s work is simply unfair. You won’t come across as a team player. Just because others may not encourage and praise each other, doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. It’s nice to be nice. 
  2. Don’t get too personal at work: I do it, we all do. it’s tough separating boundaries with people you like and occasionally socialise with outside of the office. Just don’t disclose too much. Know when to work and when to play. 
  3. Don’t come to work if you’re ill: When you work in close quarters, it is easy to transfer germs. Stay home if you are unwell. 
  4. Emails: Missing a spelling error while typing out an email on your phone, coming across as too casual in tone, cc’ing in unneccassary people, shortening people’s names (unless you’re certain they prefer to be called something else) are just a few examples of poor email etiquette. *top tip – be safe and add the email address last (read more about common email mistakes here)
  5. Say no: “No” is often a tough word to master. When you are asked to take on excessive workloads that threaten your ability to do your job to a good standard in the long term, it’s time to raise this in a meeting with your manager. Ultimately, you have to look after “number one” in the workplace. (read more about how to say “no” here).


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